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It was the night before Timmy's sixth birthday and as long as he could remember he wanted a dog, but not just any dog... a puppy just like the one Peggy had on his favorite TV show.
"But I love dogs and it's my birthday!" Timmy whined.
"I'm sure you do sweet heart but they are a lot of work," his mother replied with a sorry look, "and I'm not sure whether you're ready. They dirty up the house and their fur gets everywhere."
"I promise that I'll do everything ...Pleeeeeease?" he begged.
"We'll see," Mom replied. "Now off to bed, you have a big day tomorrow."
When Timmy opened his eyes the next morning, his heart was beating a little faster than normal. As he opened the door of his bed room and walked quickly down the hall into the living room, he was hoping in his heart that a puppy would be waiting for him in the living room.
Timmy kept his eyes closed as long as he could, but when he opened them, to his disappointment there was no surprise, just the same old living room. He checked the kitchen, but same thing. No Puppy.
"There's my birthday boy," said Mother. "Happy birthday sweet heart."
"Good morning Mom," Timmy replied in a sad voice.
"You better start getting ready for school. I'll go and make you some breakfast."
"Ok mommy. Where's my red sweater?"
"It's still dirty Timmy. Maybe I'll do laundry tonight. Wear your new blue shirt that's Aunt Clara gave you."
"Hurry up sweaty," Mother said nicely as she walked into the kitchen to make breakfast. "You don't want to be late for the school bus".
Timmy ate his toast, and Mother walked him to the bus stop. His classmates sang him happy birthday on the bus ride to school. At the end of the school day they ate cup cakes with funny hats on and sang him Happy Birthday again. On the bus ride home, no one said anything more about his birthday. It was like most birthdays he's had experienced in his short life.
When he arrived home that late afternoon, Mother, Aunt Clara and his little cousins were playing in the living room. Balloons were in the kitchen and every one was wearing a party hat, except his Uncle who always seemed a little mad.
"Same thing as every year," thought Timmy. "I get up, go to school, everyone wishes me Happy Birthday. I come home and have cake. What's the big deal? I never get what I want anyway."
"Timmy go down stairs! Your Uncle says he needs help with something," Mother yelled from the next room.
Timmy went down stairs to his Uncle, "looking serious as usual," Timmy thought. "Maybe it's because he doesn't have a lot of money," he wondered. Timmy had heard his mother talking about his Uncle's money problems with his Aunt Clara a few nights ago.
"Come out with me to my truck, I have to get something," his Uncle said.
"It's cold outside," Timmy whined.
"It will just be a minute," Uncle replied sternly.
The two of them walked outside and down the block to Uncle's black truck. It was 4:30pm and it was already getting dark. Timmy could see his breath coming out of his mouth. That's how he always knew winter was coming.
When the back door of the truck was opened, Timmy was paying more attention to how cold he was, than to what Uncle was doing. Just then, Uncle reached in and pulled out the prettiest little puppy he had ever seen.
"It's yours," Uncle said with a smile. "Tell your Mom and Auntie Clara we found it. They'll be mad if they knew I bought it for you."
His uncle, who never smiled, had a big one his face.
"Your father and I had one just like him when we were kids," Uncle explained.
Timmy, who no longer felt the cold, held his new dog as if it were a chest filled with treasure.
When he fell asleep that night, after convincing his Mom to let him keep him, it no longer felt like an ordinary birthday. Timmy wondered if his puppy, who he named Balto, was sleeping. He looked forward to playing with it in the morning as he slowly drifted off to sleep as his happiest birthday came to an end.
The first few weeks with Balto were a lot of fun, but before he knew it, another year had passed by. In that year Timmy learned that having a pet was a lot of work.
Ruff! Ruff!" barked the dog
"Quiet Balto," screamed Timmy.
Balto, who was no longer a puppy, was near the door barking. This meant he had to go out for a walk.
"Ruff! Ruff!" Balto barked again.
"Stupid Dog!" snapped Timmy.
Timmy lied back down on the couch. He was watching his favorite TV show Peggy's Place and Balto would have to wait until the end of the show.
"How come Balto can't be more like her dog?" he thought. "She never has to walk it or feed it or clean up after it."
When it was close to the end of the show, Timmy had to go to the bathroom. He wanted to see the last minute of the show but he had to go so bad.
On his way out of the bathroom he noticed that the dog was no longer barking. Just then Timmy smelled something coming from down the hall way.
"Bad Dog," Timmy yelled. Balto had messed on the floor.
"Bad dog," he yelled again, as Balto ran away into the middle room.
Timmy spent the next twenty minutes cleaning up after the dog. When he was done he lit a candle that smelled like a pumpkin, and laid back down again on the couch. His mother would be home from work soon. He felt a little bad for yelling at Balto, but he was too tired to get up to apologize.
"Let me just take a little nap," he thought to himself, as he slipped off to dream land.
Timmy dreamt about the birthday party he would have in two days, and the new toy he had been asking his mother for. Every one was sitting around the table watching him unwrap his new presents. He was just about to open the box, when he heard barking coming from some place.....Suddenly Timmy opened his eyes. The barking was not in his dream.
"Where is it coming from," Timmy wondered, as he struggled to breathe. There was a cloud of smoke in the room. Then, just as he remembered the candle he lit on the coffee table, his eyes closed and he fell back to sleep.
An hour later he awoke in a hospital bed. His mother was there with Aunt Clara and a doctor.
"Hello sweetheart. Thank God you're alright, how do you feel?" as a tear rolled down her cheek.
"What happened?" Timmy muttered softly.
"There was a fire in the apartment," mother explained. "The fireman told me that you had lit a candle in the living room and it must have fallen. Our neighbors heard Balto barking. They came to the door and smelled smoke. When they broke the door down Balto was standing over you barking".
"Why did Balto come into the room where the fire was?" asked Timmy. "He would have been safer in the other rooms away from the fire."
"Well I guess he sensed you were in danger sweaty. When you love someone, you don't think about your self. I guess Balto loves you.
Suddenly Timmy thought about Balto. Was he alright? Did he get burned? Did the Firemen save him?
Just then Timmy heard the sound of a chain rankling. Timmy's Uncle came in, and with him on his leash was Balto.
In two days would be Timmy's birthday, but he got his birthday present early that night, except this year he received two gifts.
The first gift he received was the understanding of what real love is.
The second and most important gift was realizing that people, and a dog, loved him very much.
Timmy kissed his dog on his head and said "I love you too Balto".
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